Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS7070374 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/994,334
Publication dateJul 4, 2006
Filing dateNov 23, 2004
Priority dateJan 3, 2003
Fee statusPaid
Also published asUS6827531, US7594787, US20040131439, US20050074308, US20070036628, US20080279649
Publication number10994334, 994334, US 7070374 B2, US 7070374B2, US-B2-7070374, US7070374 B2, US7070374B2
InventorsDarren Womack, William G. Bowes
Original AssigneeNissan Technical Center North America, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Track slot fastener
US 7070374 B2
Abstract
A slidably retainable fastener assembly for securing loads to a track is provided with a retainer adapted to fit at least partly within a track slot and a member operating on the retainer, the member being positionable in at least a first position and a second position. When the member is positioned in the first position, the member causes the retainer to disengage the track slot thereby allowing the fastener to be movable within the track slot, and when the member is positioned in the second position, the member causes the retainer to engage the track slot thereby causing the fastener to remain stationary within the track slot.
Images(15)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(13)
1. A tie-down fitting for a track system for a vehicle, comprising:
a retainer adapted to engage a portion of the track system;
a rotatable handle threadably coupled to the retainer; and
a main body including
a first aperture configured to contain the rotatable handle and having a height substantially the same as a height of the rotatable handle; and
a second aperture configured as a tie-down point.
2. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, wherein the rotatable handle is disposed in the first aperture such that vertical movement of the rotatable handle is limited.
3. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, further comprising at least one projection extendable into a track slot to position the fitting with respect to the track slot.
4. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, further comprising at least one tie-down catch extending from the main body in a direction substantially along a direction of a track of the track system.
5. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 4, further comprising a second tie-down catch extending from the main body in a direction substantially along the direction of the track of the track system.
6. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, wherein the main body has a generally D-shaped cross section.
7. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, wherein the fitting is configured for top-down loading.
8. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, wherein the fitting is configured to be top-down loaded into a track of the track system and then turned 90°.
9. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 6, wherein the generally D-shaped cross section comprises a generally flat base portion having first and second ends and an arcuate upper portion interconnecting the first and second ends.
10. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a spring to urge the retainer toward the main body and into engagement with a track of the track system.
11. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 5, wherein the main body and the catches have a cleat shape.
12. A tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1, wherein a diameter of the rotatable handle is larger than a width of the main body.
13. A truck bed comprising:
a track; and
a tie-down fitting as set forth in claim 1.
Description
CORRESPONDING RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/336,033, filed on Jan. 2, 2003 and now U.S. Pat. No. 6,827,531. The present application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 09/874,979, filed on Jun. 7, 2001 and now U.S. Pat. No. 6,846,140, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,712,568, issued on Mar. 30, 2004, to Mark D. Snyder et al., all of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to fasteners for securing loads to a track, and more particularly, to adjustable fasteners for securing loads to a track mounted in or near a truck bed.

2. Background of the Invention

Fasteners for securing loads to framing, tracks, and channels have been commercially available for some time. Some conventional fasteners used in automotive track applications will be briefly described below.

Conventional track fasteners have been designed to be removable and/or relocateable along a track slot length. Many of these conventional track fasteners employ a rotatable locking base portion that engages locking teeth inside the track slot or on a locking mechanism to securely retain the fastener within the track slot, and to facilitate relocation along the track slot length. These devices, however, can be difficult to install and use, which detracts from their desirability in consumer environments such as original equipment manufactured (OEM) vehicles (e.g., pickup trucks, mini-vans, sport-utility vehicles (SUV) etc.). Often, conventional track fasteners can only be loaded from an end of the track slot (i.e., their design does not facilitate top down loading), and are thus difficult to replace if broken. Also problematic, many of these fasteners have limited load capacities, such as fasteners available on roof racks, and are thus unsuitable for applications such as truck beds and cargo shipping where heavier loads are placed.

Other conventional track fasteners (e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,410,298, 4,784,552, and Re. 36,681, which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety) have been designed with a center through bolt to apply pressure between a top plate mounted above the track slot and a base plate mounted within the track slot. The bolt can be tightened to “clamp” the fastener in place, thereby securely retaining the fastener within the track slot, or loosened to facilitate relocation along the track slot length. Clamp styled fasteners are often used to temporarily attach rails to the top side of a truck bed for tonneau covers and the like, and are generally relocatable along the length of the track slot. These devices, however, often require a user to have a wrench to loosen/tighten the bolt, which detracts from their ease of use.

Some conventional track fasteners have a track slot with predetermined fastening locations. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,850,769, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. In one such device, predetermined fastening locations are set at enlarged openings in a top surface of the track in which a movable car “drops into” to retain the movable car in that particular position. The car may include a spring biased vertically movable latch to releasably engage the openings. These devices, however, are limited to the specific predetermined fastening locations, which reduces their utility for many applications. Moreover, as with other conventional track fasteners, these devices typically require the car to be loaded into the track slot from one end of the track slot, making it substantially more difficult to repair or replace a given fastener.

Thus, a need exists for an improved track slot fastening device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to overcoming or at least reducing the effects of one or more of the problems set forth above and other problems in the prior art.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, a fastener assembly for securing loads to a track is provided, the fastener assembly being slidably retainable within a track slot of the track. The fastener assembly comprises a retainer adapted to fit at least partly within the track slot, a cam member operating on the retainer, the cam member being positionable in at least a first position and a second position, and a pressure plate positioned above the track and below the cam member, the pressure plate applying a pressure on a top surface of the track in response to the position of the cam member. When the cam member is positioned in the first position, the cam member causes the retainer to disengage the track slot thereby allowing the fastener to be movable within the track slot, and when the cam member is positioned in the second position, the cam member causes the retainer to engage the track slot thereby causing the fastener to remain stationary within the track slot.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a slidable fastening device for securing an object to a track is provided, the fastening device being slidable along a track slot of the track. The slidable fastening device comprises a base portion positionable at least partly within the track slot, the base portion being horizontally displaceable along the track slot and vertically displaceable in a direction substantially perpendicular to a top surface of the track slot, a pressure plate positioned above the base portion for applying a pressure to the top surface of the track slot, and a pivotable actuator for selectably applying a force on the pressure plate thereby vertically displacing the base portion between an engagement position and a released position, the engagement position fixing the position of the fastening device within the track slot, and the released position allowing slidable displacement along the track slot.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a method of securing an object to a track including a track slot is provided, comprising pivoting a cam member to a retain position, vertically displacing a retainer positioned within the track slot in response to motion of the cam member, applying a substantially uniform force across a top surface of the track slot opposite to the retainer, and engaging the retainer with an inner surface of the track slot.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a fastener assembly for securing loads to a track is provided, the fastener assembly being slidably retainable within a track slot of the track. The fastener assembly comprises a retainer including a base portion adapted to fit at least partly within the track slot, and a ratchet lock for locking the retainer to the track slot.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a method of securing an object to a track including a track slot is provided, comprising rotating a ratchet lock, vertically displacing a member positioned within the track slot in response to rotating the ratchet lock, and locking a retainer to the track slot via the vertically displaced member.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a fastener assembly for securing loads to a track is provided, the fastener assembly being slidably retainable within a track slot of the track. The fastener assembly comprises a retainer adapted to fit at least partly within the track slot, and a pin lock operating on the retainer, the pin lock being positionable in at least a first position and a second position. When the pin lock is positioned in the first position, the pin lock causes the retainer to disengage the track slot thereby allowing the fastener assembly to be movable within the track slot, and when the pin lock is positioned in the second position, the pin lock causes the retainer to engage the track slot thereby causing the fastener assembly to remain stationary within the track slot.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a fastener assembly for securing loads to a track is provided, the fastener assembly being slidably retainable within a track slot of the track. The fastener assembly comprises means for locking a retainer to the track slot in a locked position, means for selectably releasing the retainer from the locked position, and means for securing the load to the retainer.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a fastener assembly for securing loads to a track is provided, the fastener assembly being slidably retainable within a track slot of the track. The fastener assembly comprises a retainer adapted to fit at least partly within the track slot, a rotatable handle operating on the retainer, the rotatable handle being rotatable between at least an engagement position and a release position, and a pressure applicator positioned above the track and below the rotatable handle, the pressure applicator applying a pressure on a top surface of the track in response to the position of the rotatable handle.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a method of securing an object to a track including a track slot is provided, comprising rotating a rotatable handle thereby vertically displacing the rotatable handle relative to a pressure applicator positioned above the track, and vertically displacing a retainer positioned within the track slot between an engagement position and a release position relative to the vertical displacement of the pressure applicator.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a slidably retainable fastener assembly for securing loads to a track is provided, comprising a retainer adapted to fit at least partly within a track slot of the track, and a cam member operating on the retainer, the cam member being positionable in at least a first position and a second position. When the cam member is positioned in the first position, the cam member causes the retainer to disengage the track slot thereby allowing the fastener to be movable within the track slot, and when the cam member is positioned in the second position, the cam member causes the retainer to engage the track slot thereby causing the fastener to remain stationary within the track slot.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing advantages and features of the invention will become apparent upon reference to the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a fastener assembly according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the fastener assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of a fastener assembly according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a retainer with a threaded shaft according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 5A–5G are views of a ratchet lock according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of another fastener assembly according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the fastener assembly of FIG. 6 in a locked position according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a sectional view of the fastener assembly of FIG. 6 in a released position according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a drawing of a pin lock configuration according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the fastener assembly of FIG. 6 in a released position according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the fastener assembly of FIG. 6 in an engagement position according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a variation on the fastener assembly of FIG. 6 in a released position according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a sectional view of a fastener assembly with ramped or angled portions according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a partial sectional view of the fastener assembly of FIG. 13 along plane XIV—XIV according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to presently preferred embodiments of the invention. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

The following description of the present invention will describe implementations of the present invention in reference to a track slot used in a truck bed. One such implementation is described in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/874,979 filed Jun. 7, 2001, by Michael D. Anderson et al., which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. Additional improvements and variations are described in the aforementioned corresponding related applications. Other implementations are also contemplated, as would be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after reading this disclosure.

It should be appreciated that the term “track slot” as used in the present application refers to the entire internal volume of the track. Hence, “track slot” includes the space substantially between two upper inwardly protruding portions at the top of the track, and the volume underneath the protruding portions to a bottom surface of the track. It should also be appreciated that the term “load” as used in the present application refers to a force applied to a fastener assembly by an object secured thereto. This “load” may include, for example, a horizontal force acting substantially along a plane of a vehicle body, a vertical force acting upwards and away from the aforementioned plane of the vehicle body, or a combination of the two.

A fastener assembly 100 retainable within a track slot according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown in the sectional view of FIG. 1, and the exploded view of FIG. 2. As shown, track 110 is substantially C shaped, with two inward projecting extensions 112. The two extensions 112 include abscesses 114 which are preferably smooth, but can be serrated if desired.

A pressure plate 140 (e.g., a pressure applicator) is shown positioned above the track 110, applying a substantially uniform pressure on a top surface of the track 110. Preferably, pressure plate 140 is flanged at opposite lateral ends, such that the flanged portions properly seat the pressure plate 140 on the top surface of the track 110.

A belleville washer 190 (i.e., one type of spring) positioned adjacent to pressure plate 140 is shown in a decompressed configuration in FIG. 2, and a compressed configuration in FIG. 1. A washer 150 is shown positioned between belleville washer 190 and a handle 170. Preferably, washer 150 has a diameter substantially equal to the compressed diameter of belleville washer 190. Handle 170 is coupled with a retainer 130 at end A (represented by separable bolt 120) of shaft B; the shaft B including at one end C at least one of an eyelet 180, a hook, a ring, a carabiner, a clamp, a clasp, or other suitable tie down or attachment connection. As shown, the shaft B may comprise a bolt 120 or other suitable coupler.

Positioned within the track slot is retainer 130. Preferably, retainer 130 has a width substantially equal to the inner width of the track slot such that retainer 130 substantially conforms to an inner width of the track slot. Also, retainer 130 is preferably configured so as to have a size and shape that allows for top down loading (i.e., in a direction substantially perpendicular to the top surface of track 110) into the track 110. More specifically, retainer 130 is configured to have angled/cut corners on diagonally opposite edges such that the retainer 130 can be rotated about 90° once it is placed within the track 110.

As shown best in FIG. 2, retainer 130 preferably includes channel portions 134 for engaging ribs 116 of abscesses 114. Furthermore, retainer 130 also may include serrated edges 132 outside of the channel portions 134 for engaging abscesses 114 of the track 110. Preferably, the retainer 130 is made of aluminum or steel, preferably cold headed or forged. Such a material is selected such that the retainer 130 has a high strength and durability, and is resistant to corrosion. The operation of the fitting assembly will now, be described in detail below.

As shown in FIG. 1, the fitting assembly is configured in an engagement position, where serrated edges 132 of retainer 130 engage abscesses 114 of track 110. A slight gap is present between the bottom of bolt 120 and the bottom surface of track 110. Serrated edges 132 help to fix the fitting assembly securely in place along the track 110 when engaging abscesses 114 of track 110.

To release the fitting assembly, the handle 170 is pivoted about a pin 160 to a disengagement position, preferably about 180° with respect to the engagement position shown in FIG. 1. During pivoting, an integrated cam surface 172 of handle 170 releases the force on washer 150 which decompresses belleville washer 190 from pressure plate 140, thereby vertically displacing retainer 130. Serrated edges 132 of retainer 130 then disengage abscesses 114 of track 110, allowing the fitting assembly to slide freely along the track 110.

It should be appreciated that the holes in handle 170 (see FIG. 2) are preferably off center (i.e., closer to the top), such that when the handle 170 is pressed down, the retainer 130 is lifted and tightened into the engagement position, and when the handle 170 is lifted, the retainer 130 loosens. Hence, this configuration causes the above described engagement and disengagement operation.

The above described fastener assembly is particularly advantageous over conventional approaches, as it is relatively easy to use and inexpensive to manufacture. Belleville washer 190 and the shape of cam surface 172 also provide for automatic locking of the handle 170 in a given position, which improves the ease of use. Moreover, the above described fastener assembly requires no tools to relocate it along the track, and can be relocated to any position along the track (i.e., not just at predetermined fastening locations). Also, the invention eliminates any uncertainty as to whether the fastener is tightened too much or too little. Thus, the present invention provides substantial improvements over conventional fasteners.

A fastener assembly retainable within a track slot according to another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIG. 3, with parts thereof depicted in greater detail in FIGS. 4 and 5A–5G. The fastener assembly 200 according to this second embodiment comprises a cleat 210 including a base portion 220 adapted to fit within the track slot 110 (preferably in such a way as to provide for top-down loading). The cleat 210 is locked to the track slot 110 (i.e., in an engagement position) via ratchet lock 240. It should be appreciated that the cleat 210 refers to any slidable member adapted to fit within the track slot 110. It should also be appreciated that the term “ratchet” refers to a device that is tightened as it rotates until a predetermined amount of torque is attained, and then spins freely, re-releases, locks, or indicates in some manner that the required fastening torque has been attained.

Hence, the ratchet lock 240 is preferably configured to limit the maximum fastening torque applied to the ratchet lock 240 to prevent damage to the track 110 and/or the fastener assembly 200 from over tightening. Furthermore, the ratchet lock 240 is also configured to set a minimum fastening torque applied to the ratchet lock 240 to prevent undertightening of the fastener assembly 200. In operation, the ratchet lock will “click” when an appropriate torque is attained, similar to a gas cap being screwed on after refueling. As will be set forth in greater detail below, one such ratchet lock 240 is shown in the views of FIGS. 5A–5G.

The ratchet lock 240 preferably comprises a rotatable base portion 242 (e.g., a header) coupled to a retainer 250 via a threaded shaft 260 (see FIG. 4). The rotatable base portion 242 is configured to thread onto the shaft 260 to raise/lower the retainer 250. According to one aspect of the present invention, the rotatable base portion 242 includes a hex nut (not shown) placed in the center portion of the rotatable base portion 242. Alternatively, the rotatable base portion 242 may be drilled and threaded to directly thread onto the shaft 260.

As shown in FIGS. 5A–5G, the base portion 242 can be formed with one or more torque cantilevers 244, preferably a plurality of torque cantilevers 244 extending all the way around a vertical surface of the rotatable base portion 242. As shown best in FIG. 5E, the torque cantilevers 244 engage corresponding notched portions 233 formed on an inner surface of rotatable top 243. The torque cantilevers 244 “spin” when a fastening torque greater than a predetermined maximum is applied to the ratchet lock 240, or when the rotatable top 243 is rotated in a counterclockwise direction. When the rotatable top 243 is rotated in a clockwise direction, the torque cantilevers 244 ratchet engage the notched portions 233 formed on the inner surface of rotatable top 243, thereby rotating the rotatable base portion 242 on the shaft 260, thereby vertically displacing the retainer 250 within the track slot 110. The vertical displacement of retainer 250 locks the cleat 210 to the track slot 110 (i.e., an engagement position), or releases the cleat 210 from the track slot 110 (i.e., a disengagement position).

As shown best in FIG. 5F (an enlargement of the bottom left corner of FIG. 5G), the rotatable base portion 242 is preferably rotatably fixed relative to the rotatable top 243 by a protrusion 259 extending within the groove 257 formed along an exterior surface of the rotatable top 243. As shown in FIG. 5B, preferably four protrusions 259 are formed, though the number and spacing along rotatable base portion 242 may vary. Other attachment schemes are also within the scope of this invention, as would be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after reading this disclosure.

As shown in FIG. 3, the fastener assembly 200 also includes a tie down 230 for securing loads to the fastener assembly 200. Preferably, the tie down 230 is substantially arc shaped as shown. However, it should be appreciated that the tie down 230 may be configured as an eyelet, a hook, a ring, a carabiner, a clamp, a clasp, or other suitable tie down or attachment connection. In the substantially arc shaped configuration shown, the rotatable base portion 242 of ratchet lock 240 is positioned between the arc shaped tie down 230 and the base portion 220 of cleat 210.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits of previously described embodiment(s) of the present invention, the fastener assembly 200 of the present invention provides for a cosmetically appealing fastener by partially hiding the ratchet lock 240 via the arc shaped tie down 230. Furthermore, the “spin” torque cantilevers 244 help prevent over tightening of the ratchet lock 240 and indicate to the user that the fastener assembly 200 is fully tightened (e.g., by generating audible clicking sounds when the fastener assembly 200 is sufficiently tight), thereby reducing any chance of damaging the fastener assembly 200 or track 110 due to over tightening. Hence, the fastener assembly 200 provides for substantial improvements over existing fasteners.

A fastener assembly retainable within a track slot according to another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 6–12. The fastener assembly 300 according to this third embodiment comprises a retainer 330 adapted to fit within the track 110. Similar to the first embodiment, the retainer 330 is vertically displaceable within the track 110, such that it engages abscesses of the track 110 to secure the fastener assembly 300 to the track 110. Retainer 330 is preferably configured so as to have a size and shape that allows for top down loading (i.e., in a direction substantially perpendicular to the top surface of track 110) into the track slot.

According to this third embodiment, the fastener assembly 300 includes a pin lock 305 operating on the retainer 330, the pin lock 305 being operable in a released/disengagement position (FIGS. 6, 8, 10, 12), and in a locked/engagement position (FIGS. 7, 11). The pin lock 305 includes a first pin 360 coupled to the retainer 330 via shaft 320 and linked to a second pin 370 via a first locking arm 390. A welded base portion 350 (e.g., a lockplate) or the like may be used to couple the shaft 320 to the retainer 330 depending on the particular implementation. The pin lock 305 further includes a third pin 380 coupled to the handle operating on the pin lock 305 and linked to the second pin 370 via a second locking arm 395. Second locking arm 395 is preferably an integral part of the handle 312 (FIGS. 10, 11) but is described as a separate arm for illustration purposes.

The operation of the pin lock 305 will now be described in reference to FIG. 9. For purposes of explanation, both the “released” position (i.e., Φ about 40°) and the “locked” position (i.e., θ about 10°) are depicted in FIG. 9. Preferably, first locking arm 390 has a length L1 of about 14 mm, and second locking arm has a length L2 of about 9 mm. It should be appreciated that L1+L2≅M1, the maximum length of the locking arms 390 and 395 in combination.

Assuming the third pin 380 remains substantially in the same location in the released position and in the locked position, the first pin 360 is located at a distance M3 from one end of the maximum length M1 when in the locked position. The first pin 360 is vertically displaceable within the fastener assembly 300 to displace the retainer 330 between the locked position and the released position Similarly, in the released position, the first pin 360 is located at a distance M2 from one end of the maximum length M1. In operation, the first pin 360 and the third pin 380 are aligned along a locking axis 302 substantially bisecting the first pin 360 and the third pin 380 when the pin lock 305 is positioned in the locked position. Furthermore, the first pin 360 and the third pin 380 are aligned along a released axis 304 substantially bisecting the first pin 360 and the third pin 380 when the pin lock 305 is positioned in the released position.

This configuration provides for vertical displacement of the retainer 330 coupled to the vertically displaced first pin 360, and a secure “lock” of the retainer 330 to the track 110 when the pin lock 305 is in the locked position. It should be appreciated that Φ must be large enough to provide sufficient travel to take up the entire release clearance. This provides for a simple locking mechanism to lock the fastener assembly 300 to the track 110, and also provides for an easy release to allow the fastener assembly 300 to be slid along track 110 to another position. Hence, in addition to various advantages of the aforementioned embodiments of the present invention, this configuration also provides for many improvements over conventional fasteners.

For loading purposes, the fastener assembly 300 may be provided with spring 321, first loading projection 322, second loading projection 333, and running surface 334 as shown best in FIG. 12. To load the fastener assembly 300, the fastener assembly 300 is placed on top of a track 110 rotated 90° about a vertical axis therefrom with respect to the operational position shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. The second loading projection 333 is configured to have a length greater than a width of the slot of the track 110, such that the second loading projection 333 rests on a top surface of the track 110 in a loading position.

The first loading projection 322 operates with the spring 321 to force a gap between a top surface of the retainer 330 and a bottom surface of the second loading projection 333. This gap is designed to be large enough such that the retainer 330 can be rotated 90° within the track 110 once the fastener assembly 300 is placed in the loading position. The entire fastener assembly 300 is then rotated 90° to the operation position shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. The second loading projection 333 is thus configured to have a width smaller than a width of the slot of the track 110, such that the second loading projection 333 rests within the track 110 in the operational position, and the running surface 334 is configured to rest on a top surface of the track 110 in the operational position as shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. Once in the operational position, the fastener assembly 300 can be used as indicated above.

A fastener assembly retainable within a track slot according to another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 13 and 14, with a portion cut along plane XIV—XIV shown in greater detail in FIG. 14. The fastener assembly 400 according to this embodiment includes a rotatable handle 410 (e.g., a thumb-wheel) within an outer tie down 411 for securing loads to the fastener assembly 400. The rotatable handle 410 operates retainer 450 via shaft 420. A spring 430 is provided in a space between the rotatable handle 410 and pressure plate 440, such that the spring 430 applies a vertical force on the pin 443 with respect to the pressure plate 440.

To operate the fastener assembly 400, the rotatable handle 410 includes an angled running surface 445 interfacing pin 443. As the rotatable handle 410 is rotated between a locked position and a released position, the angled running surface 445 vertically displaces the pin 443 coupled to the retainer 450 with respect to the pressure plate 440. The rotatable handle 410 cannot be vertically displaced beyond a maximum amount due to intersecting the outer tie down 411, thus the rotatable handle 410 vertically displaces the pin 443 via the angled surface 445, which similarly displaces retainer 450 via shaft 420, thereby locking or unlocking the fastener assembly 400 from the track slot 110.

The interface between the angled running surface 445 and the pin 443 can be designed to prevent overtightening of the fastener assembly 400 and to default to a tightened condition when “partial” tightening occurs. By way of example, the angled running surface may include a notch (not shown) for receiving the pin 443 at a loosened state near a “top” of the angled running surface 445. If an operator only partially loosens the fastener assembly 400, thereby not reaching the notch, the spring 430 forces the pin 443 to slide down the angled running surface 445 back into a tightened/engaged position. To prevent overtightening, the spring 430 is configured to apply the maximum retention force on the retainer 450 when the pin 443 is at the “bottom” of the angled running surface 445. Hence, both overtightening prevention and default engagement can be achieved.

It should be appreciated that various aspects of the aforementioned embodiments may be combined and/or modified amongst the various embodiments of the present invention. Thus, for example, the second and/or third embodiments may be provided with channel portions 134 for engaging ribs 116 of abscesses 114, and/or serrated edges 132 outside of the channel portions 134 for engaging abscesses 114 of the track 110. Furthermore, the second and/or third embodiments may be configured to allow for top down loading into the track 110, to make it easier to replace or add fasteners. Other variations are also possible, as would be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after reading this disclosure.

The foregoing description of preferred embodiments of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed, and modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teachings or may be acquired from practice of the invention. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to explain the principles of the invention and its practical application to enable one skilled in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined with reference to the claims appended hereto, and their equivalents.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2110435May 26, 1937Mar 8, 1938Albin Jeremiah WLatching device
US2602691Jun 10, 1947Jul 8, 1952Briggs Mfg CoLatch for pivoted convertible seats for vehicles
US2685848Oct 15, 1951Aug 10, 1954Hume Tirey LSlotted tunnel ship clamp
US2688289Feb 8, 1952Sep 7, 1954Pan American World Airways IncCargo tie-down assembly
US2696139May 28, 1952Dec 7, 1954Charles W AttwoodNut for locking engagement with unistrut
US2736272May 15, 1952Feb 28, 1956 elsner
US3005292Oct 31, 1957Oct 24, 1961Gateway Erectors IncAnchor slot channel attachment block with resilient anti-skid retaining means
US3053355Jul 22, 1957Sep 11, 1962Charles W AttwoodCurved nut with edges to bite into channel flanges
US3169792Dec 6, 1962Feb 16, 1965Solano Viquez Carlos LPick-up truck which is convertible into a passenger vehicle
US3241501Jan 8, 1964Mar 22, 1966Aid CorpHold-down device
US3478995Sep 21, 1967Nov 18, 1969Hughes Aircraft CoTie-down apparatus
US3643973Apr 22, 1970Feb 22, 1972Bott John AnthonySliding tiedown device
US3658012Nov 27, 1970Apr 25, 1972Portec IncIdler for channel tiedown track
US3722910Apr 21, 1971Mar 27, 1973Heckenlaible HHook unit for pickup trucks
US3802138May 15, 1972Apr 9, 1974C MccarterTiedown device for trailers
US3831976Nov 17, 1972Aug 27, 1974Iden RCargo tie-down system
US3877671Jan 16, 1974Apr 15, 1975Hughes Aircraft CoUnitary tie-down panel apparatus
US3951444Dec 19, 1974Apr 20, 1976Elixir IndustriesLock assembly with resilient latch
US3972500Nov 20, 1972Aug 3, 1976Johnson J AlgotApparatus for a cargo restraint system
US4109891Apr 1, 1977Aug 29, 1978Uop Inc.Load distributing track fitting
US4168668Jan 21, 1977Sep 25, 1979Maclean Fogg CompanyVehicle tiedown winch
US4226465Nov 20, 1978Oct 7, 1980Mccullough William LLoad supporting frame assembly
US4239139Feb 5, 1979Dec 16, 1980Bott John AnthonySliding tie down vehicle luggage carrier
US4248558Jul 6, 1979Feb 3, 1981Lechner Ed FTie down anchor
US4270681Dec 8, 1978Jun 2, 1981Four Star CorporationSlidable bracket for article carrier
US4278376Jun 11, 1979Jul 14, 1981Hunter Mike ELoad restraining panel
US4285379Sep 17, 1979Aug 25, 1981B-Line Systems, Inc.Fastener
US4396324Apr 6, 1981Aug 2, 1983Ellis Robert CTie-down rail apparatus for a pick-up truck or the like
US4410298Oct 2, 1980Oct 18, 1983B-Line Systems, Inc.Fastener
US4449875Jul 22, 1982May 22, 1984Uop Inc.Seat back mounting system
US4469261May 6, 1982Sep 4, 1984Masco CorporationArticle carrier with adjustably positionable bracket
US4500020May 6, 1982Feb 19, 1985Masco Corp.For mounting on a surface of a motor vehicle
US4545697Sep 28, 1982Oct 8, 1985La Telemecanique ElectriqueDevice for fixing by screwing onto a channel section and the combination of a channel section and such a device
US4575295Jan 11, 1984Mar 11, 1986Gte Products CorporationFastener for channeled structural members
US4630982Nov 27, 1985Dec 23, 1986The Boeing CompanyCargo tie-down system
US4666355Aug 4, 1986May 19, 1987Usg Industries, Inc.Top grip lock nut assembly
US4708549Sep 11, 1986Nov 24, 1987Ancra CorporationRattle-proof anchor fitting for securing loads to retainer track
US4717298Jan 2, 1986Jan 5, 1988Bott John AnthonyCargo restraint system
US4739528Sep 18, 1986Apr 26, 1988Allen Dennis MTie-down system with sleeping mat for the bed of a pick-up truck
US4741582Sep 30, 1982May 3, 1988Lafrance CorporationMounting fastener
US4778092May 27, 1986Oct 18, 1988Unistrut International Corp.Vehicle roof rack
US4784552Apr 9, 1984Nov 15, 1988Unistrut International Corp.Nuts for channeled structural members
US4827742Feb 3, 1987May 9, 1989Unistrut Australia Pty. Ltd.Security assembly for vehicle roofrack
US4840525Dec 9, 1987Jun 20, 1989Unistrut International Corp.Fastener restrainer for framing system
US4850063May 12, 1988Jul 25, 1989Daniel AbbateWater closet fastener
US4850769Jun 8, 1987Jul 25, 1989James E. IrvinTie-down device
US4887947Sep 22, 1988Dec 19, 1989Bott John AnthonyCargo restraint system for pick-up truck bedliners
US4911348May 3, 1988Mar 27, 1990Huron/St. Clair CompanyAdjustable cross rail for luggage carrier
US4915342Oct 11, 1988Apr 10, 1990Car-O-Liner CompanyChain anchor clamp device
US4941702Feb 23, 1989Jul 17, 1990Southward James FUnderseat expansion bed vehicle for transporting long load material
US4948313Nov 23, 1988Aug 14, 1990Wesanco, Inc.Nut platform for framing channels
US4950099Dec 11, 1989Aug 21, 1990Swiss Aluminum Ltd.Releasable clamping-type compressive joint
US4955771Apr 18, 1989Sep 11, 1990Bott John AnthonyCargo restraint system
US4961553Oct 3, 1988Oct 9, 1990Todd George RSupport system for pipes and other loads
US4969784Aug 25, 1989Nov 13, 1990Yanke Louis MCargo securing mechanism for pick-up trucks or the like
US4984726Jan 23, 1990Jan 15, 1991Unistrut Australia Pty. LimitedVehicle roof rack
US5044856May 24, 1990Sep 3, 1991Protoned B.V.Fastening element secured against rotation for a structural part to be removably attached to a supporting arrangement
US5137403Dec 14, 1990Aug 11, 1992Anthro CorporationSupport surface and adjustable security strap for traveler cart
US5143415May 31, 1991Sep 1, 1992Jemb Rack Systems, Inc.Disassemblable, lightweight truck utility rack
US5154385Apr 8, 1991Oct 13, 1992George R. ToddSupport systems with improved channel nuts
US5165628Jul 27, 1990Nov 24, 1992George R. ToddSupport systems and components thereof
US5188479Apr 30, 1992Feb 23, 1993Unistrut International Corp.Tubular framing system
US5199836Apr 13, 1992Apr 6, 1993Gogarty Brian JFor use in a machine tool
US5209619Jun 9, 1992May 11, 1993B-Line Systems, Inc.Channel nut fastener
US5228736Nov 19, 1991Jul 20, 1993Dutton Virgil RTruck box top molding
US5259711Jul 13, 1992Nov 9, 1993Beck George RTie-down apparatus
US5271586Nov 21, 1991Dec 21, 1993Walter Stauffenberg Gmbh & Co. KgFixing arrangement
US5297888Jan 21, 1993Mar 29, 1994Unistrut International Corp.Tubular framing system
US5316357Aug 16, 1993May 31, 1994Schroeder James CExtension wall attachment structure for pickup trucks
US5366327Feb 9, 1993Nov 22, 1994Bergen NelsonFor securing a rope under tension
US5370488Nov 12, 1993Dec 6, 1994Sykes; Christopher C.Connector
US5409335Apr 4, 1994Apr 25, 1995Beck; George R.Tie-down anchoring device
US5411356Sep 20, 1993May 2, 1995Custom Industrial ProductsSelf-locking strut nut system
US5433550May 17, 1993Jul 18, 1995Barvaria Cargo Technologie GmbhConnecting device for quickly and releasably interconnecting two bodies
US5433566Nov 9, 1994Jul 18, 1995Bradley; Douglas B.Tailgate-mounted stabilizing apparatus
US5494388Jan 24, 1994Feb 27, 1996Stevens; GaryHidden adjustable tie-down device
US5533848Jan 3, 1995Jul 9, 1996Davis; Oliver M.Payload tie-down system
US5560666May 3, 1995Oct 1, 1996Vieira; Glenn R.Removable rack system
US5628598Sep 14, 1995May 13, 1997Hilti AktiengesellschaftAttachment nut for profiled rails
US5655865Jun 16, 1995Aug 12, 1997Hilti AktiengeschaftAttachment arrangement
US5674033May 5, 1995Oct 7, 1997Ruegg; Thomas ArthurVehicle tie-down system for container
US5676508Jun 28, 1996Oct 14, 1997Weicht; Gary LeeFor a vehicle
US5690460Dec 11, 1996Nov 25, 1997Pilgrim Screw CorporationFastener assembly for attaching a cover to a panel
US5704571Sep 16, 1994Jan 6, 1998Vargo; James M.Cable tray and method of installation
US5765978Nov 27, 1996Jun 16, 1998Satron, Inc.Cargo track fitting
US5775652Nov 16, 1995Jul 7, 1998A.C.T. Enterprises, Inc.For mounting equipment on a structural member
US5779412Apr 30, 1997Jul 14, 1998Smc CorporationProfile frame and connector
US5794901Jan 20, 1994Aug 18, 1998Festo KgFunctional component usable for demonstration and/or training purposes
US5820322Sep 3, 1997Oct 13, 1998Hilti AktiengesellschaftFastening element for a shaped rail
US5823724Jul 29, 1996Oct 20, 1998New Haven Moving Equipment Corp. Of California, Inc.End caps for tie-down track and process for installing a tie-down track
US5823727Apr 2, 1998Oct 20, 1998Lee; RayAnchor fittings for securing objects on a elongated track
US5827023Oct 30, 1995Oct 27, 1998Stull; William S.For securing cargo in the bed of a vehicle
US5893538Jan 21, 1997Apr 13, 1999Onishi; YoshioConduit clamp
US5915900Jun 12, 1998Jun 29, 1999Boltz; Bernard A.Cargo tie-down device
US5947356Jul 10, 1998Sep 7, 1999Delong; Ronald C.Quick latch system for tool box
US5961263Jun 4, 1998Oct 5, 1999Nunez; Luis AlbertoTruck bed cargo restraint system
US5975822Apr 8, 1998Nov 2, 1999Martin-Baker Aircraft Company LimitedQuick-release fitting for securing equipment to a track of T-shaped internal channel section for aircraft
US6010287Apr 30, 1996Jan 4, 2000Spectrum Innovations, Llc.Sport bar system
US6712568 *Mar 29, 2002Mar 30, 2004Nissan Technical Center North America, Inc.Tie-down system with deformation region
US6827531 *Jan 3, 2003Dec 7, 2004Nissan Technical Center North America, Inc.Track slot fastener
US6846140 *Jun 7, 2001Jan 25, 2005Nissan Design America, Inc.Flexible truck bed tie-down system
US6884011 *Jul 29, 2003Apr 26, 2005Sportrack LlcTorque control limiting tie down mechanism
USD310017Jun 8, 1987Aug 21, 1990James E. IrvinTie down device for truck beds
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1Article -BCR, Inc, Building Specialties, Aickinstrut Structures and Fasteners, Aickinstrut, Inc., pp. A-D.
2Article -B-Line Systems Inc., "Strut Systems", Engineering Catalog, pp. 1-176.
3Article -Midland-Ross Corporation, "Superstrut -The Complete Line. One Source.", Superstrut Division, Oakland, CA, 1 page.
4Article -SystemOne Modular Truck Equipment, Christensen Manufacturing, http:www.christensenmfg.com/; Jul. 27, 2000, 1 page.
5Article -Unistrut Los Angeles, "Unistrut framing systems for Maintenance Supervisors, Design Engineers, Plant Engineers", pp. 1-31.
6Article -Unistrut, General Engineering Catalog, pp. 1-126.
7Article-Detroit Auto Show 2001-Toyota Matrix,http://203.139.122.131/motorshow/international/matrix/matrix<SUB>-</SUB>4.html; Mar. 14, 2001, 2 page.
8Article-Ford Motor Company, "Mercury accessories", pp. 1-23.
9Article-Hi-Lift.com web site; Oct. 16, 2001 (8 pgs.).
10Article-MaxRax "The Solution to Your Hauling Problem", http:www.truckracks.com/; Jul. 27, 2000, 1 page.
11Article-Midland-Ross Corporation, "Goldguard -New standard in corrosion protection from Superstrut", Superstrut Division, Oakland, CA, 1 page.
12Article-MIRAGE Truck Rack; "The Original Disappearing Rack"; U.S. Patent 5,143,415; Mirage truck rack accessories; http:www.altech.ab.ca/jembrack/mirage3.htm; Nov. 14, 2000, 2 pages.
13Article-Saddlepack Storage Systems for Long Bed Trucks by Steel Horse, TruckStuff USA, http://www.truckstuffusa.com/ste58202.html; Jul. 27, 2000, 1 page.
14Article-Superstrut, "Metal Framing Channel & Pipe Hangers-Typical Applications", pp. 1-4 (1984).
15Article-Superstrut, "Superstruts Products From BCR, Inc., Building Specialties", pp. 1-4.
16Article-Superstrut, "Total Support Systems", Superstrut Division-Illustrated Price List, pp. 1-41 (1986).
17Article-SystemOne Modular Truck Equipment, Christensen Manufacturing, http:www.christensenmfg.com/html/features.html; Jul. 27, 2000, 2 pages.
18Article-Toyota's 2001 Toyota Matrix-"Connect. toyota.com/matrix," Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., 4 pages.
19Article-Toyota's 2001 Toyota Matrix-Truckworld Online!; http://www.truckworld.com/Sport-Utility/01-toyota-matrix/01-toyotamatrix.html; Mar. 7, 2001, 4 pages.
20Article-TracRac, "Packing Check List", TracRac , Fall River, MA, 2 pages (1998).
21Article-TracRac, "The Ultimate Sliding Truck Rack System", TracRac , Fall River, MA, 1 page.
22Article-TracRac, "The Ultimate Van Rack", TracRac , Fall River, MA, 1 page.
23Brochure-Hi-Lift(R) The Original Jacks, Bloomfield Manufacturing Co., Inc., 2001, cover page, pp. 6 and 7.
24Dialog File 226; U.S. Trademark registrations 1,824,078; 1,613,372 and 828,807, "Slide-N-Lock".
25Ringbolts, Tie Down Rings & Pad Eyes; printed Aug. 1, 2005; http://www.mcmaster.com.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7318694 *Jul 26, 2005Jan 15, 2008Allen AlexanderApparatus for securing objects to vehicles or trailers
US7497651 *Apr 20, 2006Mar 3, 2009Sportrack LlcSecurement mechanism
US7530614 *Oct 15, 2007May 12, 2009Nichols Christopher BPickup truck accessory
US7571953 *Sep 27, 2005Aug 11, 2009Fontaine Trailer CompanyTrailer
US7980614Jul 8, 2008Jul 19, 2011Nissan North America, Inc.Interior vehicle body structure
US7980798May 26, 2009Jul 19, 2011Adac Plastics, Inc.Tie-down assembly
US8057143Aug 25, 2008Nov 15, 2011Fontaine Trailer Company, Inc.Trailer load securement system
US8096741Nov 16, 2010Jan 17, 2012Nissan North America, Inc.Interior vehicle body structure
US8172195 *Sep 23, 2004May 8, 2012Kazak Composites, IncorporatedFoundation adapter system
US8657545Nov 18, 2010Feb 25, 2014Thomas & Betts International, Inc.Strut clamp
US20120189382 *Jul 28, 2010Jul 26, 2012Bentley Motors LimitedRetention system
US20130180791 *Jul 12, 2011Jul 18, 2013Renault S.A.S.Device for removably attaching a battery of a motor vehicle
DE102011079334A1 *Jul 18, 2011Jan 24, 2013Ford-Werke GmbhLadeschiene sowie Gleitstein für eine Ladeschiene
WO2006102587A2 *Mar 24, 2006Sep 28, 2006L & P Property Management CoStandard
WO2010025111A1 *Aug 24, 2009Mar 4, 2010Fontaine Trailer Company, Inc.Trailer load securement system
WO2013010948A1Jul 13, 2012Jan 24, 2013Ford-Werke GmbhLoading rail and sliding block for a loading rail
Classifications
U.S. Classification410/104, 410/106
International ClassificationB61D45/00, B60P7/08
Cooperative ClassificationB61D45/001, B60P7/0815
European ClassificationB60P7/08A3, B61D45/00B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 4, 2013FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Dec 2, 2009FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Sep 19, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NISSAN TECHNICAL CENTER NORTH AMERICA, INC.;REEL/FRAME:019843/0296
Effective date: 20070912